From Iceland — What Will We Remember?

What Will We Remember?

Published May 8, 2009

What Will We Remember?

The annual Iceland Academy of The Arts show at Kjarvalsstaðir was another diverse range of innovative designs and artwork, divided into five sections: Fine Art, Fashion, Graphic Design, Product Design and Architecture. But what will be remembered?
Will it be the politically controversial art of Emil Magnúsarson Borhammmar and Bergdís Hörn Guðvarðardóttir? The digital music album produced through cymatics by Eyþór Páll Eyþórsson. Perhaps we will remember the chocolate souvenirs we bought after visiting Arna Rut Þorleifsdóttir’s product design exhibition. What will stick in our minds come next year?
The Political Artists?
On Election Day, two artworks were banned from view after governmental officials tagged them as having propagandist undertones and disallowed them to be displayed whilst the voting commenced. The law states that advertisements or items interpreted as having potential political undertones cannot be displayed near polling places, so as to ensure voters freedom from propaganda.
    The artists in question viewed this as an attack on their freedom of speech. Emil Magnúsarson Borhammmar had to pack up his painting-filled van and drive it down the street, away from view.  The artwork was until then displayed in his van, just outside the museum, so as to “protest the institutional exclusivity in the artworld.” His monotone paintings were several sizes, depicting politicians’ and celebrities’ public affairs. Ironically, many of the pictures didn’t seem to pass judgment negatively or positively. One picture merely depicted rapper 50 Cent and (potentially former) billionaire Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson standing side-by-side (‘Fitty’ in fact performed at the latter’s 40th b-day bash in Jamaica). The other artist, Bergdís Hörn Guðvarðardóttir, created an interactive space documenting whale research that has been undertaken over the past years. This show, which includes a skull of a northern bottlenose whale, was blocked from view with a barracked wall to prevent it from being seen or entered. When asked her feelings on this, Bergdís told me that it’s “absurd that caring about nature and the protection of animals has become a politically controversial issue.”
Cymatic Graphics
Graphic designer Eyþór Páll Eyþórsson produced a digital graphic piece based on the principles of cymatics. In case you were wondering, cymatics is the study of pattern formations produced through sound waves. In light of these principles, Eyþór experimented with a small amount of sugar, a metal plate and a set of speakers. “I allowed the frequency from the speakers to permeate the metal plate and into the sugar which formed patterns reflecting the sound waves… the music played on the speakers were tracks I made for the project.”  The resulting music and graphics may now be purchased from the 12 Tónar record store.
A Product To Remember Or Not?
The edible chocolate souvenir was inspired by the mass of construction still taking place in Reykjavík post economic collapse. About the inspiration for this work, artist Arna Rut Þorleifsdóttir told me: “What is most striking about the Reykjavík skyline in 2009 is the number of construction projects and unfinished buildings.” The designer wanted the product to have a temporary feeling to symbolise the monuments under constructions, so she chose chocolate. You had a choice between eating Hallgrímskirkja, taking a bite out of luxury apartments at Skuggahverfi or rebuilding the half-built Reykjavík Concert Hall by licking the roof off. Each chocolate was on sale at the museum for 1.000 ISK, and although more expensive than normal sweets, they seemed to be a hit with the kids. Probably the real estate developers that inspired Arna might have preferred running after the chocolate versions, too, in light of recent events.  

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